Most Instagram users are obsessed with the like count on their posts. Many would not admit it but let’s be honest. We all have moments where we compare the engagement our posts have with those of friends and family. It goes so far that people are posting content purely to get likes or views. Recently a young woman asked a police officer to take a picture of her while she was loaded into an ambulance after an accident, stating it would get her a lot of likes on Instagram.
But it is not only individuals that are craving likes, businesses are no other. We know several multinational retail and hospitality that ask their marketing managers to reach a target amount of likes during influencer marketing campaigns. While quality is important, the pressure on social media managers to reach this quota often leads to little research to find the best match. Something Ritz Carlton (a luxury hotel brand) suffered from last year, as mentioned by Forbes.
On April 30th, Instagram announced to remove the like counter from their platform and are starting a test phase next week in Canada. Users can still view the likes they receive but their followers or audience can’t. Instagram states that the reason for doing this is to get users to interact with posts more because of their content and not their popularity. Although we fully agree with this step, removing the competing factor of likes and hopefully boosting the quality of content, it does raise a few questions.
Over the past years Instagram and Facebook (who owns Instagram) has struggled keeping up with fake likes and fake accounts providing the likes. Numerous businesses providing fake likes and followers were sued and shut down. Companies providing fake likes, known as like-farms, are being shut down almost on a weekly basis. What Facebook and Instagram are struggling with more and more is detecting fake likes and followers. Not only do these businesses know very well how to make everything look real and legit, a new trend that started is hacking real people their accounts and using those accounts to like other peoples content. Something that was talked about by Destin Sandlin (youtuber @SmarterEveryDay). In an interview with Destin, Facebook revealed that they remove 1 million fake accounts every day.
With the removal of the likes on Instagram, they partly neutralize these businesses as likes play less of a role on the platform. Knowing this we can’t stop thinking that the removal of likes might be partly motivated by this and not only to have their users focus more on the content itself.
The like removal is still in a testing phase and we have yet to see if and when this might be implemented to all users. It is one of the biggest changes Instagram is implementing and we wonder if this is a trend that will ripple to other platforms such as Facebook.